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Monday, May 2, 2011


Covering bin Laden's deathPROVIDENCE, R.I.—Kathryn L. LaBorie's family finds little solace in news that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden is dead.
Her husband, Eric, and father, Gene Yancey, said Monday they are still plagued by thoughts of her final moments on United Airlines Flight 175, where she was the head flight attendant working in the first-class cabin when it slammed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Sunday night's announcement by President Barack Obama that an elite American team had killed bin Laden in Pakistan stirred up difficult feelings for both men.
"I did not think it would affect me this much, but it really brings back a lot of harsh memories that I'm having a hard time dealing with," LaBorie told The Associated Press.
Around Rhode Island and the nation on Monday, people remembered the attacks and marked the death of the al-Qaida terrorist. LaBorie was one of five Rhode Island residents killed. She lived in Providence and was based out of Boston's Logan International Airport.
Her father, Gene Yancey, 76, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said he had mixed emotions after learning of bin Laden's death Sunday night while watching TV.
"One is, I'm happy that they finally got him. Number two, my thoughts go to Kathy, and what might have happened on 9/11 while she was in the air. Justice has prevailed, I guess," he told the AP. "It's good in a lot of ways and I'm glad they got him, but I'm so sad about my daughter."
Yancey said his daughter's death had forever changed his life. He quit working at his advertising agency, and said he, his wife, Flo, and LaBorie's two brothers, had deeply felt her loss. That would not change with bin Laden's killing, he said.
"I don't feel closure, it's always open and raw, and my feelings, there's no closure at all, except for the fact that he's gone," he said. "It's a good thing for our country that he's gone, but we're going to have to be diligent because this terrorist thing is not over."
"I know that there might be retaliation in some form. We've got to keep on our toes," he said.
The images of the airplanes crashing into the twin towers have left LaBorie deeply scarred.
He said that when commuting on Boston's subway for years after the attacks, he would see the Prudential Center and invariably imagine he'd see a plane flying into it. He still wakes up at 3 a.m. with the vision of his wife's plane hitting the tower.
"Those are the images that are stuck with me to this day, and I'm going to die with them," he said.
He has since moved to rural Bedford County, Va., where he runs a campground with his fiancé, and where he feels he's safer and calmer. He says he's frustrated and finds no satisfaction in the news of bin Laden's death. He also questioned whether the man is actually dead. LaBorie said he cannot trust his government.
"If they knew who the person was who was the mastermind, why didn't they kill him Sept. 12? I don't understand that," he said. "They said they shot him twice in the head, but then they dumped his body in the sea right after that. ... I want to see a head with two bullets in it. That's what I want to see. That would be enough for me."
U.S. officials say bin Laden was killed during a firefight and then quickly buried at sea. White House officials were mulling whether to release a photo.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said it is "imperative" that the American public sees evidence of bin Laden's death. He hailed the decision to quickly bury him at sea, saying it will prevent his supporters from using his grave as a shrine.
"One thing you do not want to do is give any more credence to people who see him as a martyr," he said during a news conference at his office in Cranston Monday.
Reed said bin Laden's death deals a significant blow to an already degraded al-Qaida leadership, but that the U.S. and its allies can't let up the pressure on terrorist networks around the world. He said retaliatory strikes are possible, either by individuals acting alone or by more sophisticated terrorist networks.
In Providence, Marlene Goldfarb of Holland, Pa., who was sightseeing with her 26-year-old daughter, Rebecca, stopped in a downtown pedestrian tunnel that's home to a 9/11 memorial of hand-painted tiles bearing messages of hope. They had seen the memorial Sunday before the news broke, and on Monday returned to reflect on the tiles and to take pictures.
Goldfarb, 60, said the memorial seemed imbued with greater meaning after the news.
"That's what we've been hoping for -- to get him," she said. "Hopefully that'll put an end to things."


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